City giving away free trees to neighborhoods

It’s time once again for the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to give away free trees to almost anyone who wants one. Just get a group of neighbors (a minimum of five households) together to request from 10 to 40 trees per project. Every participating household can also get a fruit tree for their own yard. Deadline for applications is Aug. 16.

This is the 15th year that Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is providing free trees through the Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Tree Fund program. Through the Fund, Seattle residents have planted more than 20,000 trees and built stronger community connections along the way.

In 1972, Seattle’s land area had a tree cover of 40 percent. Now, that cover has dropped to 22 percent. This decline threatens nature’s ability to help manage storm water, reduce erosion, absorb climate-disrupting gases, improve public health and clean the air. The goal of the Tree Fund program is to increase the percentage back to 30 percent, build community, and promote a clean and green environment for Seattle’s streets.

Share the Road, it’s Bike to Work Day

Thousands more bicyclists than usual will be riding today, because it’s the annual Bike to Work Day.

Cascade Bicycle Club has teamed up with a number of other businesses to provide 44 commute stations throughout the region, offering freebies like water bottles and snacks, providing information on cycling, and some even have bicycle technicians ready to fix your flat tire.

At the Ballard commuter station behind Hale’s Ales, Christa Michel of Ballard’s Bike Sport marveled at the number of riders this morning and in general. “It’s a lot of pepole. A lot more women this year. We sold out of our women’s bikes this year.”

In Fremont, hundreds of cyclists stopped to grab free goodies, including water bottles and safety lights from Bike to Work sponsor F5, as well as bike bells and socks from Smartwool (if you were willing to trade in the pair you were wearing).

At about 7:30, 100+ riders followed Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn up Dexter Avenue and into downtown Seattle for a Cascade Bicycle Club bike rally outside City Hall.

Later today, Ballard will continue the biking fun with its Summer Streets party. From 4-7 p.m. along 22nd Avenue between Ballard Avenue NW and NW Market Street, the street will be closed to cars and opened up to cyclists for free bike maintenance, a spin on the seven-seat conference bike by the Dutch Bicycle Company, booths with cycling-related giveaways, and more.

Pool & community centers closed on Friday

Seattle Parks and Recreation is taking another furlough day this Friday, March 12 to help fill the budget gap. That means the Ballard Community Center, the Loyal Heights Community Center and the Ballard Pool will be closed. (Child care and late-night programs will still operate at the community centers.)

On Monday, March 15, Park Department administrative offices (communications, correspondence, Park Board support, web management, public outreach, human resources, finance and administration) will be closed.

Interbay Golf Course and the Seattle Aquarium will operate as usual.

Metro eliminating nearly half of Route 28 bus stops

If you ride the number 28 bus, you may have seen the bus rider alert notices at bus stops. King County Metro is eliminating 56 bus stops between Denny Way and North 145th Street. That’s about 42 percent of all the stops.

Metro says it’s increasing the spacing between bus stops to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, reduce operating costs and speed up service. Metro estimates that about 25 percent of riders will need to catch their bus at a different stop when the changes are implemented on Sunday, April 4.

You can call the Route 28 Hotline at 206-296-4511 for more information and to leave a comment. Comments will be accepted through March 19.

Fred Meyer environmental review meeting next week

The next step in the Greenwood Fred Meyer (100 NW 85th St) redevelopment proposal is an environmental review meeting next Thursday, March 11. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Loyal Heights Community Center, 2101 NW 77th St.

As our sister site PhinneyWood has reported, the development on 85th Street will demolish the existing Fred Meyer and Greenwood Market, and build a 170,000-square-foot single-story Fred Meyer, with about 250 residential units on top, and about 26,000 square feet of retail for other tenants. A three-story parking garage, and a few small parking lots, would provide parking for nearly 700 cars.

The preliminary designs passed through the Design Review Board last September. Next week’s meeting will focus on environmental issues, since much of the land is on top of Greenwood’s infamous peat bog.

Written and/or oral comments may be submitted at the meeting. This meeting is to receive public comment and provide information relating to soils and hydrology issues and to receive comment on other environmental issues.

(This drawing by GGLO Architects shows the public plaza area from 1st Avenue Northwest, looking to the northwest.)

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday

It’s a little harder to remember when Election Day is now, since King County voters no longer go to an actual polling place, instead voting by mail. So here’s a little reminder: Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Feb. 9 in order to count.

And King County has removed all but two of its drop boxes, so if you can’t make it to the post office by 5 p.m. Tuesday, you’ll have to drop it into a free drop box at the King County Administration Building, 500 Fourth Ave. in downtown Seattle, or at King County Elections Headquarters, 9010 East Marginal Way S. in Tukwila.

You can also drop it off at one of King County’s three accessible voting centers, including one at Seattle’s Union Station 401 S. Jackson St., until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

On the ballot in Seattle are two Seattle Public School measures to renew existing Operating and Capital levies.

Historic Syttende Mai parade this Sunday

Ballard’s Syttende Mai parade has always been about history. Syttende Mai – or the 17th of May – celebrates the day in 1814 when Norway’s constitution was signed in the town of Eidsvoll, Norway.

Ballard, with its strong Scandinavian heritage, holds one of the largest – if not THE largest – Syttende Mai parade outside of Norway. And this year’s celebration on Sunday is historic for a number of reasons: it’s the 120th anniversary of the Seattle Syttende Mai Committee; the 100th anniversary of the UW’s Department of Scandinavian Studies; and a restored replica of a Viking ship will sail down Market Street, at the head of the parade.

“Seattle’s May 17th Committee has been in existence as long as Washington has been a state,” spokeswoman Laila Sharpe explains.

She says Oslo, Norway, has the world’s biggest Syttende Mai parade, with Bergen, Norway, in second place. She believes that Ballard’s 100+ parade entries – with 2,000 people total marching and another 10,000 watching – makes it the third largest in the world.

“It’s kind of like the Seafair Parade; but then it’s also like a community parade. It’s quite the event. It has grown through the years to become a celebration through the community,” she says. “It’s a bit like Fourth of July for Norwegians.” (See last year’s parade here).

That restored replica of a Viking ship (pre-restoration photo above) is marking another important piece of history – the 100th anniversary of another Viking ship sailing across Lake Washington to dock at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition at the UW in 1909. Sharpe says money from the 1909 World’s Fair help fund a lot of buildings on the young U-Dub campus, and helped start the Scandinavian Studies department.

The 200-year-old Nordic Spirit will be on display at the Nordic Heritage Museum earlier in the day and will lead the parade.

This year’s Grand Marshal for the parade is Norwegian Ambassador Wegger Christian Strommen. Honorary Marshal is Dr. Terje Leiren, Chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the UW. And The Hellvik Mannskor (man’s choir) is flying in from Norway as special guests.

A Norwegian documentary film producer, Solvi Barber, will film the celebration. Sharpe says they’ll add some historical footage, then the film should be available on the Seattle Syttende Mai Committee’s website, and possibly at the Nordic Heritage Museum as well.

But there’s more to Syttende Mai celebrations than just the parade. Sharpe says that back in Norway, Syttende Mai is also called Children’s Day, and activities mainly focus on children, to help them know their heritage.

The May 17 celebration begins at noon Sunday with entertainment at Bergen Place park, at the intersection of Market St., Leary Avenue and 22nd Avenue from 12-4 p.m., and traditional Norwegian children’s games (or barneleker) at the Ballard Community Center at 6020 28th Ave. NW from 12-4 p.m. Games are free and all children receive an award.

A special luncheon at Leif Erikson Hall with a speech by Strommen and music by the Hellvik Mannskor is already sold out.

Norwegian Fjord Horses will be on display at the Nordic Heritage Museum from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. before marching in the parade.

The parade begins at 4 p.m. near Adams Elementary at the corner of NW 62nd and 24th Avenue NW. The route goes south to Market Street then east to Bergen Place.

The Smilin’ Scandinavians perform from 8 p.m. to midnight at Leif Erikson Hall. Entry is free but donations are welcome; must be 21 or older.

Sharpe says that even though Ballard is undergoing a profound transformation, the Scandinavian influence is still strong.

“It’s important to keep our legacy alive, because Ballard has been transitioning in recent years,” Sharpe says. “But, we don’t want to forget our rich history.” (Nordic Spirit photo courtesy of the Nordic Heritage Museum)

McPhee’s prepares to move a bazillion things

For 10 years, Ballard residents have been able to stroll down to Market Street and buy everything from a giant shrunken head for $250 to hundreds of tiny treasures for $19.95 a quart at Archie McPhee’s, the wonderfully wacky, tacky store that caters to our inner child.

But, they lost their lease, so McPhee’s is packing up and heading to Wallingford, and they’re saying goodbye to some of the store’s larger fixtures that just won’t fit in the new space. Shelving, racks, an old dentist’s chair, a life-size medieval archer and a custom-built pop-up cake that did a booming business as a rental – all are for sale.

“Usually it’s a hairy man in a coconut bra jumping out of the cake,” Shana, the store manager, explains of the cake that’s now for sale for $1,500. “It’s usually more funny than saucy.”

So, once the big items are sold, how in the world will Shana and her crew pack up the estimated 10,000 different items for the 2.4-mile move to the corner of 45th and Stone Way?

Since they’ll be consolidating from two buildings into one about the size of their main building in Ballard, they’ve had to pick only the finest fixtures for the new store. And they’re packing up their storeroom behind building number two and sending it all up to the main office and warehouse in Mukilteo, where their parent company, Accoutrements, conducts its wholesale and shipping business.

McPhee’s just got the keys to their new building, a former liquor store, on April 3, so first they’ll start painting inside and out. They’ve already painted all the pegboard in four vibrant colors: pink, orange, turquoise and green. “It’ll be nice and bright,” Shana says.

Shana and her staff made a diagram of the new space and spent hours moving around little pictures of fixtures and products, trying to make it all fit.

They numbered all the displays and have packing boxes with corresponding numbers, so they can put items into a numbered box and unpack it on the right display in Wallingford – meaning no rubber chickens or Jesus action figures should go astray.

Some displays may be moved without taking items off – if it has wheels they can just wheel it up and into a truck. For others, they will literally just take the steel peg full of products off the pegboard, put the whole thing into a box, then pull it out and put it on its new fixture.

One thing they haven’t quite figured out is how to display the employee-decorated ceiling tiles from their second building.

“The ceiling is not the same at the new store, but we’ll figure out a way to display them. All the staff was very concerned about taking the ceiling tiles,” Shana says.

The move will start happening as soon as the painting is done, but Shana can’t nail down a time frame. She says they’ll stay open in Ballard and start moving fixtures and product slowly until there’s more stuff at the Wallingford store than in Ballard. Then they’ll close for hopefully just a day or two to move the cash registers and the rest of the inventory, before putting out the welcome sign in Wallingford.

“A lot of people will be very happy because we’re going to be very cramped, much like we used to be in the old space on 35th and Stone Way,” Shana says. “Believe me, it is going to be crammed. It’s going to be crazy. As we say, it’s going to be luscious.”

Oh, and the medieval archer? He’s all yours for just $599.